Wednesday, 21 January 2015

‘Tom & Jerry’ most complained about children’s TV show on record

They are probably not the names of shows you would expect to see at the top of a complaints list.

But ‘Tom & Jerry’, ‘Blue Peter’, ‘Tweenies’ and ‘Rastamouse’ are among the most complained about children’s shows that have ever been reported to the media watchdog.

Figures released to MailOnline following Freedom of Information requests to Ofcom reveal an unlikely list of shows for young viewers, which caused controversy over the past decade.

Others in the top 10 of these programmes were CBeebies show ‘Get Well Soon’, ITV1’s ‘Bratz’ and ‘My Parents Are Aliens’ and the BBC’s ‘Children’s Party at the Palace’.

The figures measure the most complained about episodes that Ofcom has recorded in its history. ‘Tom & Jerry’ came top with 82 complaints relating to two episodes, which were accused of glamorising the use of cigarettes and cigars in the cat and mouse cartoon.

But rather than being directly about the programme, most of the complaints were about Ofcom’s decision to actually investigate the cartoons.

This included claims it had been over the top and it smacked of the ‘nanny state’. The row had been sparked by an original complaint that the portrayal had been inappropriate for children.

The episodes ‘Texas Tom’ and ‘Tennis Chumps’ had aired on digital channel Boomerang in 2006. The scenes had shown Tom trying to impress a female cat by rolling up a cigarette.

In the other episode, Tom’s tennis opponent was seen smoking a big cigar. Ofcom, at the time, claimed the complaint had been resolved.

The second-most complained about show was ‘Get Well Soon’ on CBeebies, which attracted 65 complaints from viewers who claimed it breached ‘generally accepted standards’.

This was relating to a discussion in November 2012 held by Dr Ranjit Singh on the MMR jab – with some viewers who disagreed with it complaining that the statements were misleading and harmful.

However, Ofcom assessed the complaints and decided not to investigate. The BBC said at the time that it was ‘entirely appropriate to include MMR in the series to help demystify the actual process and combat any fears that young children may have about needles or injections’.

In third place was the infamous case of the BBC airing an impersonation of paedophile Jimmy Savile on CBeebies in January 2013 – which led the broadcaster to issue an apology.

Ofcom received 21 complaints – while the BBC had more than 200 – after showing a 2001 episode of the ‘Tweenies’ featuring a character sporting a blond wig and a gold necklace, who did a convincing impression of the disgraced star’s Yorkshire accent.

Fourth on Ofcom’s list of most controversial children’s shows was ‘sBlue Peter’.

But it was not due to the revelations about competition fakery in 2007 – and rather scenes showing the execution of a goat, which was being slaughtered in Oman during a religious festival in the same year.

These sparked 14 complaints to the regulator, which said it had been ‘resolved‘. The show filmed the animal’s agonised death throes as part of coverage of a village preparing for its Eidul Fitr.

US kids’ show ‘Bratz’ on ITV1 was fifth on the list with 13 complaints after it had contained the word “spaz” in one of its episodes in 2006, which viewers branded “deeply offensive” and “derogatory” and had been used as an insult. The TV watchdog once again said the matter had been resolved.

Children’s BBC show ‘Rastamouse’ was in sixth, although it had the same number of complaints.

‘Rastamouse’, about a Rastafarian mouse, came under fire in 2011 for the way it “stereotyped black people” and because of the ‘patois’ language used on the show. It attracted 13 complaints when the show first aired, but this led to 200 further complaints over the following months.

ITV show ‘My Parents Are Aliens’ had two entries in the top 10 – at number seven for causing religious offence and concerns over bad language in 2006 and in ninth place for an episode in 2004, which sparked concerns about derogatory language about mental health among other concerns.

These received ten complaints and nine complaints respectively.

BBC1’s ‘Children’s Party at the Palace’, held in honour of the queen’s 80th birthday in June 2006, had seen complaints after fake news flash confused people. The broadcaster had claimed a major incident had taken place during the live TV show from Buckingham Palace.

This was revealed to be the pretend loss of the queen’s handbag, which was meant to be part of the show. There were also complaints about Jonathan Ross’s presenting on the show. It attracted nine complaints and was eighth on the list. The BBC’s then-head of television news Peter Horrocks later apologised for “for anyone who was momentarily misled”. 

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